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Jamal is clear-headed, hopeful, and motivated to turn his life around. He doesn’t seem like someone who spent 15 of his 42 years in homelessness. Jamal chalks that up to God protecting him. “There were many nights when I was either drunk or high,” says Jamal. “Anything could have happened to me. I’m grateful to be alive.” For Jamal, homelessness was always about survival. He says he cared about just two things: “Keeping my stomach fed and finding a dry, safe place to sleep.” He says, “A lot of nights, I slept at the bus stop. And then when daylight came, I hid. I didn’t want to get the looks, the judgements, the ‘Why don’t you get a job?’ — people acting as if you don’t exist.”
Jamal has been in recovery before, but always relapsed. That’s how hard it is to stay clean. A friend urged him to come to CityTeam. So Jamal researched us online and discovered we have a respected recovery program. “A couple of weeks before that I had said I was going to give my life to the Lord,” he says. “I just didn’t know what it was going to look like.” Jamal set up an interview with our intake team. “As I look back, that minute when I said I was going to give my life to the Lord fully — and I meant it sincerely in my heart — that’s when He kicked in and guided me all the way through.”
Jamal says CityTeam is helping him with medical and dental care, remedial classes to refresh his math and language skills, coaching on how to get a job, and, most important, mentoring in his faith. “The Breaking Free class, for example, is all about asking God and the Holy Spirit to guide you through the hurt, embarrassment, things that happened to you and the stuff you’ve done to you,” Jamal says. “The biggest emphasis is: God has already forgiven you. “Today, God is ordering my steps. He has kept me safe and protected me, because He’s going to use me for something. I don’t know what.”
A big motivation for Jamal is reconciling with his family. He has a 4-year-old daughter who he hasn’t seen for three years. Her mother cut ties with him. But Jamal knows that the onus is on him to prove he can be a responsible father. “The further along I get, the more likely it is that my daughter and I can start building a relationship,” he says. Jamal says his work at CityTeam is preparing him for a new career path, a lifestyle of ongoing learning, and a commitment to letting God guide his steps. He is hopeful about his future for the first time in many years. To you and other CityTeam partners he says, “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to hope again. Your donations give people hope. I’m going to try to give back when I get in a better position.”